FCN 1: An Introduction to Fathering

An Introduction to Being the Father Each Child Needs Blog Series (FCN)
Cooper Brown & the FFL Team

Blog Series Description

This blog series is sponsored by the Foundation for Family Life (FFL) and is part of a discussion on fathering that highlights the importance of fathers in the lives of their children and families.  The aim is to inform, encourage, and celebrate fathers’ efforts and desires to be the father their children need.  Content for these blogs draws on academic studies, personal experiences, and the book Why Fathers Count: The Importance of Fathers and Their Involvement with Children by Drs. Sean Brotherson & Joseph White.  FFL is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower individuals and families to improve their lives through quality programs and services.  FFL promotes family services like family life coaching and counseling, hosts an annual family life conference, and offers sober living and addiction treatment programs for those in need, among other things. Contributors to this series include Dr. Joseph White, Cooper Brown, Haylee Baker, Brynlee Winegar and Lauren Ashby.

An Introduction to Fathering

My name is Cooper Brown and I am an intern with the Foundation for Family Life.  This is our team’s initial fathering blog in the “Being the Father Each Child Needs” blog series and I’m grateful to have been invited to share some insights from my own father’s example.  My brother and I are different in many aspects.  Looking at a picture of us might even bring into question our status as brothers, but our differences extend beyond our looks.  Growing up I loved everything about sports.  I used to stay up late watching NBA games, played tennis in high school, and put on my NFL jersey every Sunday for good luck.  I also enjoyed being a part of the Boy Scouts.  Camping and hiking were among my favorite activities.

On the other hand, my brother is one of the most tech-savvy people I have ever met.  In high school, he would redesign company logos for fun.  Adobe programs are his canvas, and he is the artist.  He also has a love for planes and flying.  I remember watching him play Flight Simulator and practicing the safety instructions flight attendants give. 

There are many things different about us, including what we need.  My father had to wear many hats to meet our various needs.  It was not easy, but I am grateful for his love and support for my brother and me.  My dad and I went camping at least every other month from middle school through high school.  He taught me how to build a fire, put together a tent, and make tin foil dinners.  Some of my favorite memories include backpacking into Linville Gorge, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and rafting down the French Broad River.

My dad taught me how to play tennis.  He showed me how to hit a backhand, forehand with topspin, and use my height to create more leverage when I serve.  It was because of him I made the tennis team.  I gained new friends and had some of my best high school memories on that team. My brother never got the short end of the stick because of these experiences.  My dad worked as a traveling salesman and took my brother with him during the summers.  That way, they could fly and spend quality time together.  When my brother needed an internship in graphic design, my dad hired him.  It wasn’t out of obligation either.  My brother was qualified and rebranded the entire company my dad worked for.

My dad was not perfect, but he ensured that our needs were met.  How can fathers meet the needs of their family?  It is on this topic that our fatherhood blog series will follow.  Fatherhood is a learning process that, by necessity, adapts and evolves over time for each man and each family.  

One study identified fatherhood principles by surveying 374 men and 99 father-son pairs.  Researchers asked men what it means to be a good father.  The most popular responses included love, availability, being a good role model, involvement, providing for the family, giving support, being a teacher, being affectionate, and being a good listener (Morman & Floyd, 2006).  Children benefit greatly when they experience a father’s love.  A father may express love for his son when he loses a little league game or after a daughter performs at a dance recital.  Children feel their father’s love when he is available and attentive to their needs.  A religious leader said, “In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time” (Uchtdorf, 2010, pp. 21-22).  Learning that a father’s love is unconditional can create a solid foundation for a child’s life.  Brotherson & White explained that “fatherhood involves a responsibility to work for a child’s well-being in a caring, committed manner.  In essence, the development of a father-child relationship asks for a morally committed, actively involved devotion on the father’s part” (2007, p. 18).  Understanding and embracing these ideas can help men be the father each child needs.  

There is much that men can do in their fathering efforts.  Showing love, spending time, expressing concern, and being an example are critical.  The goal is not perfection; all men will fall short in their paternal responsibilities.  The goal is to focus on the good that men bring to the table as fathers and to encourage them in their paternal desires (see Generative Fathering, 1997, and Why Fathers Count, 2007).  We hope to highlight father’s contributions and support men as they move forward in the best possible way for their children.  Please share positive insights, perspectives, and responses in the comments section below.

See Other Blogs in our “Fatherhood” Series:

References

  • Brotherson, S. E., & White, J. M.  (2007). Introduction. In S. E. Brotherson & J. M. White (Eds.), Why fathers count: The importance of fathers and their involvement with children (pp. 1-7).  Harriman, TN: Men’s Studies Press.
  • Brotherson, S. E. & White, J. M. (Eds.). (2007). Why fathers count: The importance of fathers and their involvement with children. Harriman, TN: Men’s Studies Press.
  • Hawkins, A. J., & Dollahite, D. C. (Eds.). (1997). Generative fathering: Beyond deficit perspectives. Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Morman, M.T., & Floyd, K. (2006). Good fathering: Father and son perceptions of what it means to be a good father. Fathering, 4(2), 113.
  • Uchtdorf, D.F. (2010, May) Of things that matter most. Ensign, 19-22. https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2010/11/saturday-morning-session/of-things-that-matter-most?lang=eng

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12/21/16

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